Within the first few weeks of the Bucs Care Food Pantry getting underway, more than two dozen students are receiving the weekly bags filled with food.
Bucs Care is an effort driven by GHHS parents and students.
The idea came from Rachel Whiting-Womack, a West Ottawa High School teacher, wanting to support the Grand Haven school’s less-fortunate students. She said there’s a food pantry at West Ottawa, and she wondered about the need at GHHS. Having lived in the community almost her entire life, Whiting-Womack said she believes it can be hard for people to say they need help. But everyone has a need in their lives, she said, and there’s no shame in reaching out for assistance.
“We all go through points in our life where we need help,” Whiting-Womack said.
Angie Prieditis, a guidance counselor at GHHS, said there are many needs that come through their office — housing and food, to name a few. Besides filling needs, Prieditis said it’s been great seeing students wanting to help their peers.
Students fill out a Google Drive form with information about allergies, number of people in their family and other needs they might have such as clothing. To keep names confidential, student ID numbers are used.
Each student receives two bags of food, which are filled based on allergies and interests.
Whiting-Womack has worked with fellow parent Tara Butler and other parents to help coordinate the efforts. Whiting-Womack’s daughter, Morgan Womack, worked with the school’s Student Senate to launch a food drive aimed at filling the pantry. When classes competed to see who could bring in the most cans, they stocked the pantry full.
Womack, a GHHS sophomore, is the student lead for Bucs Care. She said her classmates seemed excited to help their peers. One student collected monetary donations and a large amount of food that filled her car, Womack said.
To keep the pantry filled throughout the year, the leadership will be rotated between different student groups, Womack said.
Looking ahead, Whiting-Womack said she hopes to see Bucs Care grow and help with additional basic needs, but that will depend on storage and space.
Anyone interested in contributing to the food pantry can drop off non-perishable food items to the GHHS office, 17001 Ferris St. in Grand Haven Township. Suggested items include juice, fruit cups, canned chicken, instant oatmeal, chips and snacks. With the weather turning colder, Prieditis said they also need hats, gloves and mittens.
Financial donations can be sent to the GHHS Bucs Care Food Pantry at the high school.